Lancashire University signs deal to develop nose spray vaccine to counter Covid-19
A Lancashire University has signed a deal with biomedical firm ViraCorp which aims to develop a nasal vaccine to combat coronavirus.
Lancaster University development of the new vaccine is based on the work of Lancaster molecular virologist Dr Muhammad Munir, a pioneer of needleless and next-generation COVID-19 vaccine.
Dr Munir has taken on a role of Chief Scientific Officer at ViraCorp in addition to his academic role in the university.
They hope that using a nasal spray will provide a cost-effective and easily administered alternative to needles and the delivery system will also reduce vaccine hesitancy which is currently hindering global immunity.
The company is set to announce a number of world-leading scientific partner organisations to take the vaccine through trials to production and distribution and intends to target territories where vaccine distribution has been low, supporting the World Health Organisation’s campaign on vaccine equity.
ViraCorp and Lancaster University are already working together on testing a new antiviral and antimicrobial mask which begins killing COVID-19 on contact, and is being produced by sister company ViraCoat.
Dr Munir said: “With the emergence of new variants and increasing challenges to equitably vaccinating the world, there is a need to develop novel and improved COVID-19 vaccines.
“ViraCorp has put together a team of global partners who will bring world-leading expertise to help bring this vaccine to market."
Senior research associate Dr Mohammed Rohaim said: “The intranasal vaccine has been extensively validated in pre-clinical studies and has a safety profile of several decades.”
ViraCorp CEO Jon Chadwick said combining the University’s state-of-the-art facilities and world-leading virology experts with ViraCorp’s mission was a ‘logical step’.
He said: “As a company uniquely equipped to help tackle the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, it is a responsibility of ours to ensure that our efforts are both as rapid and as impactful as possible.
“Our aim is to ensure that vaccines are available for everybody, including countries and remote communities which may not have access to the currently available vaccines, and our work with Lancaster University is helping us to facilitate that goal.”
The World Health Organisation has launched a campaign to increase vaccine equity worldwide, stating that whilst COVID-19 vaccines are being rapidly developed, they are largely only being distributed in high and upper-middle income countries.
Professor Andy Schofield, Vice Chancellor, Lancaster University, said: “As an international institution with campuses around the world, Lancaster University wholeheartedly agrees with the World Health Organisation’s position on vaccine equity and that vaccinations should be made accessible to all
nations and communities if we are to ultimately eradicate the virus.
"“Having a vaccination which could be transported easily and administered through a nasal delivery system may help reduce the heavy infrastructure and training requirements of a vaccination drive and assist in getting the vaccine to some of the world’s most remote communities.”
ViraCorp through its subsidiaries is a group of biomedical research and development companies, on a mission to improve the health outcomes for as many of the world’s population as possible.